MountainFLOW Wants Green Bike Care Products to Go Mainstream

Aug 25, 2022 at 15:20
by Alicia Leggett  
MountainFLOW is working to change the game for the greener.

Who are you and what is mountainFLOW?


My name is Peter Arlein and I'm the Founder and CEO of mountainFLOW. mountainFLOW is a leading manufacturer of high-performance, plant-based bike maintenance products. 

Peter Arlein wants his products clean and his face dirty.

How did the idea for mountainFLOW come about? What's the company's origin story?


In 2016, mountainFLOW started as an eco-friendly ski wax company. We realized that nearly all of the ski wax on the market was made from petroleum and all of that wax was being shed directly into the snowpack and then into the watershed. mountainFLOW developed a patented wax formula that was biodegradable, non-toxic and made entirely from plants. Our wax is now being used by some of the best skiers and snowboarders in the world, including World Cup Champions and Olympic medalists.     

In 2020, mountainFLOW recognized a similar opportunity in the bike industry. The large majority of bike lubricants originate from the automotive industry and are made from petroleum. Similar to ski wax, bike lube, whether during application, riding, or cleaning, is introduced directly into the environment. mountainFLOW has developed a full suite of high-performance bike maintenance products including lube, wash, and grease that are biodegradable, non-toxic, and made from plants.

Why did you see the need in the outdoor industry for eco-friendly products like the ones you're making?


The use of petroleum-based bike lubricant is a classic micro-pollution problem. On an individual basis, each rider is putting a very small amount of lubricant into the environment. However, in aggregate, there are literally tons of petroleum oils introduced into our favorite mountain playgrounds every year. Furthermore, some of the popular additives, such as PTFE, are toxic and bioaccumulative - meaning that once in the environment, they are there forever and will never break down.

We saw an opportunity to create a line of products that offered the same level of performance without any of the negative environmental impacts. As consumers we should be asking more of our outdoor industry brands. The technology is now available to have performance and sustainability and we should demand both.

Chain lube and other bike care products don't stay on our bikes forever. Whatever is in them eventually goes into our water, too.

What about the company are you most proud of?


I'm really proud of our determination/stubbornness to only release products that meet our standards of performance and sustainability. Our team is composed of passionate bikers and skiers and we need to be able to stand behind all of our products 110%.  It is now en vogue for every brand, whether bike lube or ski wax, to offer at least one token eco-friendly product, while 99% of the product line is still made from petroleum and/or PTFE. mountainFLOW does the opposite - 100% of our products are sustainable and non-toxic. As such, we have become experts in eco-friendly product development and feel that our products can rival the performance of anything else on the market. 

I've noticed that you put quite a bit of focus on developing sustainable packaging, not just the products themselves. Could you tell me a bit more about that?


We strive to offer the most sustainable packaging on the market. It feels disingenuous to create a non-petroleum bike lube and then just throw it into a regular plastic bottle. All of our bike lube bottles are made from 100% Post-Consumer Recycled plastic.

Furthermore, our Bike Wash + Degreaser is packaged in a cardboard bottle with a thin plastic liner. This package uses 70% less plastic than a traditional plastic bottle.   

Sourcing sustainable packaging is easier than you would think and oftentimes results in a new and interesting look which can really help the product to stand out on the shelf.

The Bike Wash + Degreaser comes in a cardboard bottle that's thinly lined with plastic.

It seems like one of the most effective ways to carve your niche in the bike world would be through collaboration with other companies, and I think you've been doing a bit of that. Is that correct? Could you tell me a bit more about that?


We have just launched our Bike Private Label program and are already working with a handful of established bike brands. These partnerships have a broad range of cooperation... some brands are using our products on their demo bikes so that their staff is not exposed to the toxins present in traditional bike lube and other brands have opted into a full suite of white-labeled products. To see the confidence that other bike brands have in our products is really rad. We are stoked on the early traction of this program and have a few big partnerships coming down the pike, so stay tuned. 

The Private Label collabs on the ski side of the business have been pretty robust. We've partnered with The North Face, Nordica, POW (Protect Our Winters), Winter Wildlands Alliances, National Ski Patrol, WNDR Alpine, and a bunch more. Private Labeling is a fairly unique offering in both the ski and bike worlds and we are stoked to be able to offer it. 

Why haven't more companies started focusing on eco-friendly bike maintenance products?


Well, it's not easy to create a high-performance and eco-friendly product. Petroleum-based lubricants are readily available and relatively inexpensive. These products have been around for decades and have been very successful, thus it is often easier to stay the course. While these products still dominate the market, we are seeing the beginnings of a sea change. Consumers are asking more of their favorite bike brands. Moving forward, I think that we will see a greater selection of eco-friendly bike maintenance products on the market. 

I've been putting several mountainFLOW products to work lately, and I can confirm that they seem to work as well as the conventional competition.

What are the challenges of starting a small commodity brand within the bike (and ski) industry?


You said it right in the question - "commodity". We are building a brand around a product that is generally seen as a commodity. We have a unique brand story and are doing something different from the mainstream. This type of endeavor takes time. There's also an educational component that comes along with our product - how is mountainFLOW different? Why is it important to use an eco-friendly bike lube? Does it even work? 

We have been on the road all spring and summer. Chatting with folks about mountainFLOW and, more importantly, lubing their chains so they can experience the product for themselves. Once people learn more about traditional lubricants and realize that there are now more sustainable alternatives, they are pretty quick to rally behind the product. 

What changes would you like to see around sustainability in the bike industry in the future?


We have proven that sustainable and high-performance do not have to be mutually exclusive. We would love to see more brands get on board with this ethos. 

The brand makes plant-based grease, too, to round out the lineup.

What would you like to see mountainFLOW achieve in the future?


mountainFLOW is just getting started. In just a few short years we have built a loyal following of riders who swear by our products. This is both extremely motivating and humbling. We are excited to continue driving the movement away from petroleum-based products in the outdoor industry.

Is there anything else you'd like us to know?


Just try our products, we know you'll love them. And, if you have any questions, just give us a call - (970) 340 - 8604 or visit us www.mountainflow.com. We are always stoked to talk shop.


54 Comments

  • 40 2
 This stuff is awesome. Call it marketing or greenwashing if you want, but you have to compare these guys to the other brands on the market that do literally nothing. WD-40, Tri Flow, Rock and Roll, etc. etc. are all petroleum based, none are certified B Corps, many have ties to the bigger chemical industry... The more companies like MountainFlow can chip away at this and continue to improve their products, the better!
  • 9 0
 I agree but I'd have liked to see at least some discussion about what's actually in the lubes and how well they work relative to others. Especially for the chain lubes. Feels like we got a lot of info about the views/mission (which is cool) and not that much about the products.
  • 2 0
 @bkm303: They are based in the town I live in I've used their ski wax for a while now and its great I cant notice a difference between them and the Swix stuff, however I do have some of there bike wash and it doesn't compare to Muc off wash, Dawn is a better option and its not the worst for the environment. Their chain lube is solid though definitely better stuff out there but there's not a huge difference.
  • 40 19
 Appreciate the effort, but there’s a fair amount of greenwashing here:
1. Cardboard bottles lined with plastic are very hard to recycle due to their mixed materials. Most sorting facilities will just discard them. A regular plastic bottle is much easier to recycle, if you separate the lid from the body (different types of plastic). In general, plastic pollution would be a lot better if we standardized our packagings to avoid mixing different materials.
2. Those metal grease tubes are not recyclable. A plastic tub is much easier to recycle.
3. That Evil carbon frames isn’t exactly eco-friendly. No hypocrisy, I also ride a carbon frame.
  • 6 0
 Odds are those plastic bottles end up in a landfill. At least with these some of it is biodegradable. IMO the pink lube brand could learn from them
  • 29 0
 The cardboard bottles are made with recycled materials and I don't believe are intended to be recycled. Still better than the alternative which is all plastic and can't be recycled.
Plastic tubes that have left over grease can't be recycled.
What does the Evil have to do with his products?
Perfection is the enemy of pretty damn good.
  • 1 7
flag KK11 (Aug 25, 2022 at 18:51) (Below Threshold)
 I’ll stick with the usual big old plastic bag full of used shop towels that were used with rubbing alcohol to clean off small parts, DOT and mineral oil catch reservoir crafters from my wife’s new Tupperware , suspension cleaner rags, used Park tool chain cleaner dirty water and maybe a 888 fork full bath disposal if time permits.
  • 7 0
 9% of plastics only get a second life on average.
We feel good putting the plastic in our recycling bin thinking we did good but the degradation of those materials when recycled is usually not desired by companies.
They usually stay in a warehouse for a while waiting for someone to use it than it goes into the land fill.
I would say the post consumed cardboard is better even if it’s lined with a bit of plastic. At least it has a chance to breakdown in the landfill with less plastic residue…
  • 2 0
 @mechatronicjf: Aren't #2 plastics (like milk jugs) the most recyclable both technologically and economically? Seems that would be the answer here.
  • 3 3
 @tbubier: You are not wrong. However, your approach is working around our broken recycling system. I'm saying if we want a functioning recycling system, we need to stop mixing materials. One of the reason why recycling does not work is because we cannot get good recycled materials out of it (like FunctionalMayhem is saying). So now people are thinking "lined with plastic is better because there is less plastic in landfill".

Let alone that the average customer has no idea about any of this and will happily put the cardboard (& plastic) bottle in the recycling bin. According to the images on MountainFlow, nowhere on the bottle does it say that it's not recyclable.

The Evil bike does not represent the quality of the products. However, it does represent the values of the founder. Someone who deeply care about the environment wouldn't buy a carbon bike made in Taiwan. Combined with the appearance of greenwashing (like "cardboard" bottles) makes me question the true motives of this business.
  • 5 0
 @Loche: what if he bought the bike used?
  • 2 3
 @Loche: True motives of every business are the same - to earn money while fulfilling (or creating) a market demand. Nothing wrong in producing eco-friendlier lubes and giving a sh*t about your bike sustainability. People want it, you sell it, that's it. You may believe in the green ideology or not, it doesn't really matter if you make a good product. No one starts a business to save the world Wink The best you can do is to try not harming the world too much while earning your money.
  • 5 1
 @lkubica: lots of people start non-profits in order to make the world a better place.
COBs are also becoming more commons.
Not everone share the capitalists narrow worldview.
  • 1 2
 @mtb-jon: maybe in Sweden ... and definitely this company here is not a non-profit. I am definitely not a capitalist, but 99% of people in the world are so forgive me being a bit sceptical about this "save the world" thing. The point is, to have this wider worldview you need to be already a wealthy society so you had your turn in polluting the environment (money come from growth, and rapid growth means maximising profits).
  • 8 0
 @tbubier:
"Perfection is the enemy of pretty damn good."
Nail. Head. Whammo.
  • 12 0
 Good point. We realize that the construction of the cardboard bottle is a little unclear. The cardboard exterior is separate from the plastic bladder. The bottle is designed so that cardboard can be easily removed from the plastic and they can both be recycled separately. We have recycling instructions on our website.
  • 1 0
 @sspiff: Yes! My view is that, on the household level, those plastics are hard to seperate from other junk and hard to clean which means they might not always get recycled depending on the municipality. I'd imagine what you said is more true on the industrial level. I still carefully recycle as much as I can. I'm doing my part and it's not my fault our systems are failing us on this issue. Maybe one day we'll fix the system and all that conditioning will be worthwhile. www.bbc.com/news/world-48444874
  • 2 0
 Looks like the cardboard and plastic bottle are two separate items: cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0417/5947/3825/products/How_To_Recycle_900x.png?v=1661524588
  • 20 3
 I'd love to try some of these products to see how they compare to their less environmentally friendly counterparts. Honestly, even if they don't compare I applaud them for working towards that goal. For all the people pointing out the "hypocritical" aspects, what are you doing to make things better? We don't all need to be building our own bikes out of locally sourced bamboo and lubing our hemp chains with mud in order to make the world a better place. I agree that large scale change is needed, but trying is better than just being a hater and carrying on like normal.
  • 4 3
 No hate, but some info detailing their R&D credentials and real analysis including lifespans of wear parts and the impacts of various lubricants on environments would be nice. Otherwise it kinda just seems like might they have crappier chemists making likely crappier lubricants.
  • 10 0
 I work at a shop and the amount of waste we produce every day is a little gross. Our recycling dumpster is cardboard only. That means everything else goes in the trash. Reading this reminded me of all the shit I'm washing down the drain when I clean my hands. We have latex gloves but those aren't exactly a win either I'm sure it's all spitting in the ocean compared to what cars do to the environment but it still sucks
  • 4 0
 Right there with you. Just unboxing and building new bikes produces unconscionable amounts of single-use plastic waste. It's truly absurd.
  • 6 0
 Ive used mtnflow eco wax on many skis in the past. It does work very well but is a pain to apply cleanly. When youre waxing 20 plus skis a day regular wax can be done a helluva lot faster and cleaner. That would be my only gripe with it though. Performance is just as good as your standard petroleum stuff. Interested to see if their bike line holds up.
  • 6 0
 I never thought I would cheat on tri-flow. I picked some of this Mounatin flow lube and bike wash. I’m sold. It works great! I also feel better about myself (on my carbon bike!)
  • 9 1
 How many lubricant companies do we really need.
  • 9 3
 Every youtuber and IG influencer needs to have their own lube brand. That fat middle aged guy who makes funny IG reels and videos needs to make his own lube. Every mildly attractive female IG mtb'r needs her own lube.
  • 2 0
 @onetrykid: this is hilarious , top comment ! But also , cos if this , you now need your own lube!!!
  • 4 0
 @bigpeaches: like and subscribe. Also, send patreon money.
  • 1 0
 @onetrykid: **clicks bell**
  • 7 2
 I have decided to no longer wash my bike. I will simply ride it until it stops working, chuck it in the woods, hike to the store and buy another one. Avoids the stress of picking the least harmful cleaner and lubes.
  • 5 2
 I know they addressed it in the article, but I'd like to emphasize that organic-based lubricants and degreasers pale in comparison to their synthetic, often petroleum-based adversaries. And realistically, selling a shop on "saving the planet" by using less-than-effective bike lubricants and degreasers is going to be a very hard sell.
  • 4 1
 This.

Back in the interbike days I remember talking to the owner of Dumonde (still my favorite chain lube). At the time, their tests showed that their own biodegradable lube formula resulted in something like 70% chain life vs. the standard lubricant. Now I don't know which is the greater evil here, but it doesn't seem as black and white as we might like to think.
  • 8 5
 Lotta pessimism in the comments, especially those touting recyclability when currently the US doesn’t recycle anything because China won’t take our “recyclables” and the plastic industry has effectively lobbied recyclables to include materials that cannot be recycled. The aforementioned plus the lie/failure of single stream in an attempt to appeal to the average lazy American has doomed most recycling efforts. Oh wait, was that pessimistic?
  • 6 0
 To this day I have never understood what bike wash is. A bucket of cold water, paint brush and a hose has worked flawlessly.
  • 1 0
 . . . . . . . . . ! ! !
  • 7 4
 Thanks to mountain flow for making a product that offers consumers a more environmentally friendly product to apply to our chains and bicycles.
  • 3 0
 I think this is a great concept. Is it perfect? No but it is a lot better then most of the stuff out there. I would love to hear how well it works though.
  • 2 0
 I have a toddler who loves messing in the garage with me. The non-toxic angle is the real selling point.

Works better than the other non-toxic lubes I've tried. Booty-shield T9 is still the king tho (for dry conditions).
  • 1 0
 I was given a bunch of samples of the product. Unfortunately it didn’t work well enough to use. The grease was easily defeated by water and the “rep” didn’t have any idea as to compatibility with other oils and lubricants. He was also unaware of other industry products and the need to test lubricants with different materials. The wash didn’t clean better than just water and dish soap, and overall it was a disappointing experience. Products that don’t function or have data push people away from using greener products in the future.
  • 3 3
 It's always interesting when a company comes out as being 'green' and then sells their products in plastic bottles. Even 'a lot less plastic' plastic bottles.

You worry about the impact of the lubricant? Look at the ocean and it's hard to argue that plastic isn't the single most significant issue for a long time.
  • 4 0
 simple green
  • 2 0
 Muc-off made pink bike care go mainstream, so why shouldn't they be successful with green? I quite like green.
  • 2 0
 This company sponsors my nephew (a NICA racer in Colorado). So I like them.
  • 3 1
 "Green"? Make it rain!!!$$$
  • 3 0
 Nigel Thornberry
  • 1 0
 Logo reminds me of the all mountain style frame protection logo.
  • 2 0
 Love this!
  • 1 0
 Anyway...
  • 1 1
 CEO selfie saying Evil, you got me here
  • 5 7
 Last time I checked oil is plant based to. The only difference is when the plant died
  • 2 0
 C'mon man, everyone knows oil is made from dead dinosaurs....
Below threshold threads are hidden





You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2023. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv42 0.033510
Mobile Version of Website